Two Marines In California Have Been Charged With Smuggling Immigrants Across The Border
Coming to the U.S. isn’t easy. It can cost a lot of money whether people do it legally or not. Sometimes it can even cost them their lives. In 2018, The New York Times reported that coyotes — people who help undocumented immigrants enter the U.S. — charged people thousands of dollars. But who are these coyotes anyway? Coyotes can be anyone, men, women, professionals or otherwise. Coyotes have also been known to exploit those they are supposedly trying to help. The job is a dangerous one that puts all parties at risk with the ultimate goal of getting everyone in the party across the U.S.-Mexico border without injury or being caught. Unfortunately, more often than not, these stories don’t have a happy ending.
Two marines attempted to help undocumented immigrants enter the U.S., but were caught en route to their destination.
According to media reports on July 3, Camp Pendleton marines Byron Darnell Law II and David Javier Salazar-Quintero were arrested at Jacumba Hot Springs, California — which is east of San Diego near the border. The men had three undocumented immigrants in their car. They now face “one felony count of seeking monetary compensation,” Fox5 reports. When the men were pulled over for questioning the two Marines began pointing fingers at one another, CNN reports.
Salazar-Quintero allegedly told Law if he wanted to make $1000 for transporting the undocumented immigrants.
This was not the first time Salazar-Quintero helped undocumented people enter the U.S. According to news reports, he told officials that he had picked people near Jacumba Hot Springs several times before. Officials spoke to the undocumented immigrants who said that they paid Salazar-Quintero $8,000 to be smuggled into the U.S. That amount is what the standard rate is, according to the 2018 New York Times report. However, Salazar-Quintero said he was expecting $500 for the pickup. It’s unclear if he was given more.
The complaint shows that Salazar-Quintero was the one spearheading the transportation details.
It’s unclear who first contacted Salazar-Quintero but the complaint states that Law said Salazar-Quintero was handling the phone calls which include information about instructions. Salazar-Quintero also speaks Spanish which helped in facilitating the movement.
It’s also uncertain if other marines helped Salazar-Quintero to smuggle undocumented immigrants previously or if he acted alone. One theory that perhaps helped Salazar-Quintero is that officials wouldn’t question why he would have undocumented people in his car since he is an official marine. However, if he was in plains clothing that may have been a reason why he got caught.
Both marines are distinguished officers who have received awards for their service.
The National Review reports that they both enlisted in 2017 and “have won the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Officials at Camp Pendleton said they are cooperating “fully with the investigative efforts into this matter.”
While coyotes aren’t the main way people enter the country, it’s a method that is still used whether it is through car transport or via semi-trucks.
We’ve seen previous reports of dozens, if not hundreds, of undocumented immigrants being transported through semi-trucks. Some are in there for days without water or without means to use the bathrooms. The NY Times reports that “a decade ago, Mexicans and Central Americans paid between $1,000 and $3,000 for clandestine passage into the United States. Now they hand over up to $9,200 for the same journey, the Department of Homeland Security reported last year.”
Fox News now reports that Mexico is trying to combat the smuggling of undocumented immigrants by using X-ray machines to see inside trucks.
“Mexican officials say they caught more than 200 migrants hidden in trucks the last two days, using X-rays to see the people hidden inside. The Mexican security ministry also said it found 228 migrants in a routine search of a soft drink transportation truck in one of its southern states on Monday.”
“It is our strategic objective to end the impunity for human traffickers,” Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Monday, according to Fox News.